Over the weekend I have been thinking about new ways to categorize and target specific sections of content within larger areas of content. The thought came to mind when I was discussing with a friend about how my scriptures from church were getting too old, but we were both afraid to switch to a new set because of the notes and highlights we had made in the old set. What would be nice is to be able to easily transfer notes, highlights, and other meta data about large documents from one of the same document to another without worry of data loss.
One example would be a program written for PDAs and SmartPhones for easy access to scriptures, called MarkMyScriptures. This program is commonly used by people in LDS Wards and Branches. MarkMyScriptures gives a paid option that gives you all kinds of features to be able to highlight, mark, and take notes in your digital scriptures. I would like to take those highlights and notes, and save them in an open format that I could then use in other programs. For example, what if I could take those same highlights, and place them on as a template to the LDS.org version of the scriptures? I could have different templates for different things I’m studying, and store them all in different XML files (or other format as decided by the standard) – I could then choose the template I’d like to apply based on the way I want to study for the day.
This could be applied in other ways beyond religion too. What if I wanted to take notes on a particular wikipedia article I’m studying, and only save the extracted portions to a Word document for later? Educational and study ramifications would be incredible, and all programs would know how to interpret the data.
So I’d like to make a call for a new open-meta standard. I suggest XML or something very well understood and easy to parse as the format. In the case of XML, a WSDL should be decided on that works well across various document formats. We then need support from the community in adopting this standard into their applications in various ways. I think the applications of this standard are endless, and will provide for numerous opportunities for business, marketing, and community building. I’d like to hear others’ ideas – feel free to mention in the comments below. I will also be bringing this up on the LDSOSS mailing list – you don’t have to be LDS to join, just have to agree and tolerate the things we talk about. Feel free to pop in and join the discussion there as well.